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Draft  | Mock Draft  | 5/20/2011

Draft Projection 5-20-11

Patrick Ebert     

Cole, Rendon not the slam dunks originally thought

The 2011 draft is almost three weeks away, and there still hasn't been much concrete word about which teams are zeroing in on what players. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole, who entered the year believed as the top two players available, don't seem to be the clear options for the first and second picks.

Two other players that entered the year among the candidates for the top five overall selections, Texas Christian lefthander Matt Purke and Connecticut outfielder George Springer, also don't carry the same certainty, for different reasons.

Two prominent college lefties, Virginia's Danny Hultzen and Georgia Tech's Jed Bradley, have taken the place of Purke and Springer, and Hultzen could even be in the mix for the top two picks. UCLA righthander Trevor Bauer, Kansas prep outfielder Bubba Starling, Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor and Oklahoma prep righty Dylan Bundy have positioned themselves as premium selections among the top overall picks, possibly even first overall.

Despite all of those potential maneuverings, I still have Cole and Rendon going with the top two picks, but certainly would not be surprised if that doesn't occur when the draft comes to pass on June 6. Here is how I have the first round shaking out at this point in time:

1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
The Pirates can't get cute with this pick. They've been picking at or near the top for too many years. When all things are equal I would go with the bat, but Cole seems to carry less risk given the uncertainty of Rendon's shoulder.

2. Seattle Mariners: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
It's long been speculated that the Mariners would go with whomever the Pirates don't take from among Cole or Rendon. Plus, everyone seems to think this would be a best-case scenario for the M's, given their need for bats, although don't be surprised if Francisco Lindor is the pick.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks: Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
Hultzen has been connected for quite some time to the Diamondbacks, the team that drafted him out of high school. The D-Backs brass is certainly doing its homework this spring, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Bundy taken here.

4. Baltimore Orioles: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
The O's are one of the many teams believed to be targeting college pitching those teams. They also seem to have a thing for lefties in recent years, making Bradley a natural fit, and would likely jump on Hultzen should he be available.

5. Kansas City Royals: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy, Clermont, Fla.
The Royals are also focused on a few college pitchers, but have also set their sights on Lindor.  The talented shortstop is a human highlight reel, and has added strength to his frame making his bat just as notable as his glove.

6. Washington Nationals: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso (Okla.) HS
Add the Nationals as one of the teams focused on college pitching, but Bundy might soar just as quickly as any of the college arms available given his combination of his stuff and polish.  In any other year he would be considered for the top two picks, and would be a pretty exciting piece to add to the system after taking Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper the last two years.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
I think the D-Backs could end up with one of either Dylan Bundy or Bubba Starling at this pick. However, I'm sticking with the college pitching theme, and Arizona could have some reinforcements in their rotation within a year or two given the polish of Hultzen and Bauer.

8. Cleveland Indians: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
The run on college pitching continues with Gray going to the Indians, who typically stay conservative focusing on college athletes.  Gray has enjoyed a successful college career, and while he doesn't have the ideal stature, you can't argue with the results and one-two (fastball-curveball) punch.

9. Chicago Cubs: Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan.
The Cubs reportedly have set their sights on Starling and Lindor.  Lindor isn't expected to make it past the top five to seven picks, but Starling could inject some much-needed athleticism and star power into their system.

10. San Diego Padres: C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah
Taking big college bats is commonplace for the Padres, and while this is an unprotected pick (Karsten Whitson), I think Cron could be a legitimate selection. He has the bat to hit no matter where he ends up, including PETCO Park.

11. Houston Astros: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS, North Augusta, S.C.
The Astros have taken a best player available approach the past few years, and I think Guerrieri fits that description pretty well at this slot. His live arm and two plus pitches would be a welcome addition to the Houston organization.

12. Milwaukee Brewers: Matt Barnes: RHP, UConn
Over the past couple of years the Brewers have shown a preference for taller college pitchers with big arms. Barnes fits that description pretty well, as he quietly is putting together a very good season.

13. New York Mets: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
I can't think of too many other teams (maybe the Indians) that have been generally conservative in recent years when it comes to the draft. Jungmann, whose upside is likely that of a number three starter, could be one of the first players from this draft to reach the big-leagues.

14. Florida Marlins: Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU
Mahtook has put his name firmly in the middle of the first round with a big season at the plate. While the Marlins typically target high school athletes with their early picks, they certainly will value his premium athleticism.

15. Milwaukee Brewers: Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
This is an unprotected pick, so the Brewers may choose to go with a more signable option, but Meyer fits the profile of the type of pitcher they have been targeting recently even more so than Barnes.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers: George Springer, OF, UConn
Springer, like Mahtook, is a very athletic outfielder that is enjoying a good year at the plate. Also similar to Mahtook, despite the big offensive numbers, some refinement is still needed with his swing.

17. Los Angeles Angels: Javier Baez, 3B, Arlington Country Day HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
Baez is a player that I have heard associated with teams that have picks in the eight to 15 range. While his future position is still in question, most seem to think his bat will play just about anywhere.

18. Oakland Athletics: Corey Spangenberg, 3B, Indian River State
Reports indicates that the A's are targeting a bat with this pick given their recent ability to procure pitching talent. Spangenberg's name continues to be associated with teams higher and higher in the draft, and could move quickly towards the big-leagues with his line drive approach at the plate.

19. Boston Red Sox: Josh Bell, OF, Dallas Jesuit HS
Agent affiliation and a strong commitment to Texas means that it may take a good chunk of change to get Bell in the fold. There's no better team at overcoming such obstacles than the Red Sox, who would gladly welcome his impact bat into the system.

20. Colorado Rockies: Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii
Reliable sources have indicated that they don't expect Wong to get past the Rockies should he make it this far. The Rockies typically prefer college players, particularly positional prospects, in the early rounds.

21. Toronto Blue Jays: Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS
Bradley is a hard player to project where he will go, as his talents are deserving of a top 10 selection, but his two-sport commitment to Oklahoma is expected to constitute a large financial investment. The Blue Jays have re-committed themselves to investing into their scouting and player development efforts, leading to this pick.

22. St. Louis Cardinals: John Stilson, RHP, Texas A&M
Similar to teams like the Cubs, Nationals, White Sox, Twins and Brewers, the Cardinals like to target big-bodied pitchers with big arms, regardless of their future projected role. Stilson has one of the bigger arms in this class.

23. Washington Nationals: Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS, Johnson City, Tenn.
Normally it wouldn't be likely that a talent like Norris would last this long, but it inevitably will happen to some players this year given the amount of prospects that are expected to go among the top 15-25 picks. Because of that, teams like the Nationals will benefit by having an extra first-round pick.

24. Tampa Bay Rays: Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho, N.M.
See the last pick – it just doesn't seem right that a player with Swihart's hitting prowess could make it this far. With so many first-round picks, the Rays likely will be taking some players that aren't usually mentioned in this range.

25. San Diego Padres: Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon
Landing two of the most successful college players statistically in this draft would please both the Padres and their fans. Anderson would be another live-armed lefty to go in the first round, something we haven't seen for a few years.

26. Boston Red Sox: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS, Tampa
Jose Fernandez, meet Blake Swihart and Daniel Norris, your Aflac All-American teammates that didn't expect to be available in the 20s. Fernandez, a big-bodied righty with an equally big arm, will give the Red Sox two exciting talents in the first round.

27. Cincinnati Reds: Anthony Meo, RHP, Coastal Carolina
The Reds, like the cross-state Indians, have shown one of the stronger preferences towards college players in recent years. They also seem to target players with live arms, and few have a livelier arm than Meo.

28. Atlanta Braves: Levi Michael, SS, North Carolina
The Braves typically keep their sights on the Southeast portion of the country. They also seem to value projectable prep arms, but Levi Michael brings the type of polish and gamesmanship that the Braves hold in high esteem.

29. San Francisco Giants: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra (Calif.) HS
I spoke too soon with Fernandez in regards to Swihart and Norris, and Stephenson is in the same group. I've had the Giants associated with Stephenson in the past, as he's a popular selection for this pick given the proximity and the Giants success developing power arms.

30. Minnesota Twins: Andrew Chafin, LHP, Kent State
High school hitters and college pitchers. That's the Twins way. They too like to take power arms, and while Chafin's future role is uncertain, he is enjoying a big spring as a starter, and would be given the proper developmental patience from an organization that has enjoyed success developing pitchers from within.

31. Tampa Bay Rays: Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Fla.
Taking Vogelbach here may seem like a stretch, but in a few years from now we may be looking back and wondering how he made it even this far. He offers one of the better pure bats, with power, available, despite the common physical comps to Prince Fielder.

32. Tampa Bay Rays: Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O'Dowd HS, Oakland, Calif.
Similar to the Giants, the Rays have done a tremendous job developing power pitchers, particularly those drafted from the prep ranks. Ross is known for his polish more than his raw stuff, but he has a live arm and could be a perfect fit in the Rays system.

33. Texas Rangers: Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State
Remember when the Rangers had so many young catchers coming up through their system? That's not a reason to have a team associated with a player at a certain position, but I do think Susac manages to be taken in the first round, even if it is the last pick.